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May 24 2014

May 27, 2014




DoD Research Chief: High Cost of Weapons Threatens Security

May. 17, 2014 – 03:45AM | By MARCUS WEISGERBER | Comments


WASHINGTON — The high cost of the US Defense Department’s weapon programs threatens national security, the head of the Pentagon’s advanced research-and-development arm said.

Arati Prabhakar, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said her organization is “fundamentally rethinking” US military systems that have historically been extremely expensive.

“I think we’ve had a long history … of using our deep pockets as a competitive advantage on the battlefield and it has been a very effective strategy,” Prabhakar said during a May 14 taping of the Defense News with Vago Muradian television show. “Now it’s starting to shoot us in the foot.”

The agency is exploring ways to make weapons more flexible and cost effective.

“Today, what we’re seeing is a degree of cost and inflexibility in our major platform systems that I believe is going to make them ineffective for the challenges we face in the future,” Prabhakar said during a conference that same day hosted by the Atlantic Council think tank.

DARPA is coming up with “powerful new approaches” to space systems, weapons, radar and navigation, and communications equipment, she said.

Being more cash-strapped could help drive Pentagon innovation in the way it does business and acquires weapons, experts say.

The high cost of weapon systems is evident in the choices and trade-offs Pentagon leadership makes, Prabhakar said.


“Those choices translate ultimately to national security capabilities,” she said. “I think we’re seeing that direct link now between cost and our future capabilities. That’s the problem that I think we have to deal with head on.”

One of the “big surprises” Prabhakar has observed is that people are looking more toward DARPA rather than pursuing incremental improvement, or upgrades, of existing systems.

“Usually budget pressure translates to incrementalism for [research and development] because people say ‘what have you done for me lately — solve today’s problems,’ ” she said.

“I’ve been really surprised to find the level of concern that we’re not on a sustainable path because of the diversity of threats and the cost of our approaches to deal with them,” she said.

This theory is the “polar opposite” to what was seen in the House Armed Services Committee markup of the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal, said Byron Callan, an analyst with Capital Alpha Partners.

Lawmakers rejected numerous DoD proposals, opting to fund legacy projects, such as the A-10 attack plane, thereby maintaining the status quo, he said.


The years, and sometimes decades, it takes to field new weapons often means that by the time it reaches the battlefield, the technology is outdated. New technologies, specifically semi-conductors, could help create new architectures that are cheaper and can get to the battlefield quicker.

“It’s this next-generation of microelectronics and microsystems that shrink our physical technologies. It’s the algorithms and the software and the information systems,” Prabhakar said.

Traditionally, when the military has downsized, leaders have invested in technologies they believe can be game changers, said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Cartwright said technologies such as directed energy, cyber, electromagnetic pulse and rail guns could be those kind of game changers.


The UAV Industry’s Winners and Losers in the 2015 Defense Department Budget

by Press • 19 May 2014


Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, have emerged as the largest growth industry in the global aerospace industry, with worldwide expenditures projected to reach $89 billion by 2025. However, with the commercial use of drones awaiting Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and considering that export licenses are difficult to obtain, U.S. companies remain dependent on government contracts to fuel their contributions to the UAV industry’s growth. The budget cuts imposed on the Department of Defense by the Bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2013 are making those government contracts harder to come by. DOD procurement expenditures for UAVs have decreased from $3.9 billion in 2013 to a requested $2.4 billion for 2015. The decrease in funding will hit some companies harder than others.


The road ahead

The grim reality of DOD funding for unmanned systems was spelled out in the December 2013 report “Unmanned Systems Integrated Roadmap FY2013-2038″. Despite the rosy forecast for the global UAV industry and the prominence of U.S. companies in the market – the privately held General Atomics currently holds 20.4% of the drone market, followed byNorthrop Grumman’s (NYSE: NOC ) 18.9% – the Defense Department was blunt in its report that it would not be a major player in the UAV industry’s growth. The report states: “[A] comparison of DoD funding plans versus industry predictions indicates DoD will not be the bulk user within that market.”

DOD expenditures on UAV acquisition will continue their downward spiral into the foreseeable future. Instead, the DOD plans to maximize the effectiveness of its current inventory of UAVs through maintenance and modifications. The shifting mission and focus of the department also has affected UAV procurement practices. As ground combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan grind to a halt, the DOD has an increased need for UAVs capable of operating in inaccessible areas for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The shifting DOD priorities are evident in Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s 2015 budget request. Some companies continue to feast on government contracts with products in line with projected national security needs, while others get a taste of famine.


What’s hot and what’s not

Unmanned systems are not limited to the air; however, UAVs receive the bulk of research and development and procurement contracts from the U.S. Government. General Atomics’ MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper have long been the military’s iconic drones and the center of the controversy surrounding President Obama’s drone policy. The UAVs are designed for hunter-killer operations and combine intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities with missile payloads capable of striking targets.

General Atomics’ Predators and Reapers, however, are losing their status. DOD contracts for MQ-9 Reaper procurement fell from $979 million in 2013 to $411 million for 2015. Predator procurement was reduced from $28 million in 2013 to $5 million for 2015. AeroVironment’s (NASDAQ: AVAV ) RQ-11 Raven, a portable UAV capable of reconnaissance, surveillance, and target identification, were also a favorite for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Raven, however, took an enormous hit in 2015. Procurement contracts for the compact drone dropped from $30 million in 2013 to $13 million for 2015.

Despite the dramatic decrease in overall funding for UAVs, funding for some unmanned aerial systems increased. High-altitude, long-endurance drones designed specifically for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions continued to reap the rewards of research and development and procurement contracts. Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, capable of surveying 40,000 square miles a day, saw a reduction in procurement funding from the U.S. Air Force — funding dropped from $136 million in 2013 to $76 million for 2015. However, research and development funding increased from $240 million in 2013 to $244 million for 2015 — an indication that the Global Hawk is being prepped for future procurement contracts.

The RQ-7 Shadow, produced by the AAI Corporation, a subsidiary of Textron (NYSE: TXT ) , saw the largest increase in procurement funding in 2015. The Shadow has emerged as the favored tactical UAV of the U.S. Army; it has a range of 68 miles and a flight time of nine hours. Procurement for the Shadow skyrocketed from $73 million in 2013 to $128 million for 2015. Insitu, a Boeing (NYSE: BA ) subsidiary, also, produced a winning product. Procurement for Insitu’s RQ-21 Blackjack, a small, lightweight, tactical UAV capable of launching from land or sea, saw a dramatic increase — from $14 million in 2013 to $71 million for 2015.

Government contractors will take a hit in 2015 with the mandated reduction in Defense Department spending. In the UAV industry, however, those cuts will not be felt equally.



Australia now has more than 100 certified unmanned aircraft operators

by Press • 19 May 2014


– Analysis reveals the industry is dominated by micro and small businesses, rather than traditional aerospace and defence sector multinationals.

– Strong pattern of certification of new-starts in regional Australia with this projected to expand in support of mining and agriculture, with positive employment impacts.

A major milestone has been recorded by the Australian unmanned aircraft industry with the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) having now certified more than 100 commercial UAV operators.

The milestone was reached during the course of last week.

Analysis of CASA’s certificate holder records commissioned by the Australian Certified UAV Operators Association (ACUO) confirms micro and small businesses are the driving force behind the industry in Australia, rather than traditional aerospace and defence sector companies.

The dominance of small start-ups in the domestic market raises significant industry policy challenges for Australian government policy makers according to Joe Urli, ACUO President.

“The structure of the unmanned aircraft industry as a whole in Australia is dominated by small and micro enterprises, with these holding 91 of all issued certificates. Micro enterprises, comprising less than five people, hold 70 certificates.

Just one registered Australian large business holds a certificate, with this a non-traditional aerospace company. Only three public sector entities currently hold certificates.

“The message to public policy makers that flows from these facts is very clear: the unmanned aircraft industry as it is developing in Australia is purely commercially driven in its focus and should not be treated as simply an extension of the traditional aerospace and defence industrial bases.”

The analysis reveals that with the exception of two Australian-based subsidiaries of US firms, AAI Aerosonde and Insitu, it is clear that medium and large Australian and multinational aerospace and defence sector firms do not appear to be proactively seeking CASA unmanned aircraft operator certification at the current time.

“This may reflect the parameters of CASA’s regulations as currently stand, which do not allow beyond line of sight operations of larger unmanned aircraft.

“While those regulations are planned to evolve over the next two years, the immediate supplier base is clearly defined by a bottom up approach, rather than top down. This is unlikely to change even when the regulations do broaden, because the market dimensions are unlikely to provide many opportunities for larger systems. Where those opportunities do merge, in the medium to long term, government requirements will predominate. The overall dominance of micro and small companies will continue unabated.

“This market reality directly contrasts with most Australian government policy for the aerospace and defence sectors, which is dominated from the top with micro and small enterprises rarely assessed as having potential to act in market shaping and market defining ways”, says Urli.

The rate of unmanned aircraft operator certificate approvals by CASA has greatly accelerated the past 18 months, with the total number of holders doubling twice during this period.

“The most rapid period of growth in certificate issuance has been during the past four months” says Urli. “We see this sudden surge as indicative of a pent-up demand that will only increase, particularly given the broad market space available to start-ups.”

CASA issued its first unmanned aircraft operator certificate on 28 November 2002 to the Brisbane-based company HELImetrex. Over the next 11 years that number would climb, by January 2013, to just 27 certificates.

Victoria has emerged as the clear powerhouse of the emerging national industry with a total of 32 certificate holders, followed by New South Wales with 23. Western Australia and Queensland sit in equal third place with both having 19 certificate holders.


South Australia, which has an active state government policy of seeking to develop the unmanned systems industry as part of its forward business strategy, has just seven certificate holders. Tasmania has four certificate holders while the Australian Capital Territory has one. There are no current operator certificate holders registered in the Northern Territory.

A further important trend identified by the analysis is the impact the unmanned aircraft sector is having in regional Australia. One in three unmanned aircraft start-ups which have secured CASA operating certificates come from regional areas.

“We believe this trend reflects the early adoption of small commercial unmanned aircraft by the mine surveying and agricultural sectors” says Urli. “The mine surveying segment is particularly well developed in Australia with multiple firms engaged in this commercial activity in most states.

“Adoption by the agricultural sector is still in its very early stages and is closely aligned with the slow evolution of the precision agriculture industry in Australia.

“While many system developers envisage the agricultural unmanned aircraft evolving in market terms in the same way as the tractor, the continual market lesson being learnt by certificated operators is that unmanned aircraft have a closer parallel to the laptop computer. Data is the core of all forms of precision agriculture techniques and data is what agricultural unmanned aircraft produce.

“We assess the agricultural market as having significant growth potential for the unmanned aircraft operators community and this, in turn, is likely to see continued and potentially accelerated expansion of our industry into regional areas. It is not out of the question that the number of certified operators based in regional areas could rise to above 40% of the overall total in the medium to long term, with important regional employment effects.”

Analysis of the certificate holders reveals that no Australian university or public funded research agency yet holds an operators certificate, despite widespread usage of unmanned aircraft by these entities in their education and research activities.

“ACUO is deeply concerned by this trend and urges the Australian academic and tertiary sector to back safe aviation practices and progress the pursuit of active certification for their operations as a matter of priority,” says Urli.

“There is no exemption for Australian universities and research agencies from compliance with CASA regulations where their research activities involve manned aircraft, nor is there any such exemption provided by CASA regulations for unmanned aircraft.”

The dominance of micro and small enterprises in the overall makeup of the certificate holders base reiterates the overwhelming strength of the services side of the unmanned aircraft systems sector in Australia, as opposed to a manufacturing focus says Urli

“The bulk of the actual unmanned aircraft types operated in the Australian market are sourced commercially from Europe, the United States and increasingly, China.

“Small multi-rotor, vertical take-off and landing systems form the bulk of the domestic fleet, which now numbers in the thousands of individual aircraft.

“That offshore sourcing comes despite the technology being in clear reach of Australian manufacturers, and means those few local firms engaged in full systems development are required to compete at a global level from the earliest stages of start-up.

“That pressure is both a burden and a blessing” says Urli.


“It acts as a brake on technological innovation in hardware terms at the domestic level. It acts as an additional hurdle for prospective uptake of those new capabilities emerging from the Australian research and development sector.

“But it strongly suggests that the primary thrust of domestic innovation, what competitive edge Australia can take out onto the global stage, will necessarily have to be in the form of business models which cross traditional sectorial boundaries. That applies not just to new system developers, but to all operating certificate holders and this is precisely what is happening in Australia.”

The full list of CASA certificate holders can be viewed at:


About ACUO:

Established as a legal entity in March 2010, ACUO is the peak industry body chartered to promote the safe & orderly growth and expansion of the commercial unmanned aircraft industry in Australia. ACUO represents Australia globally as part of the International Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Coordination Council, the pre-eminent global policy coordination body for this important sunrise industry.

Notes on data:

The analysis of Australian unmanned aircraft systems certificate holders used as the basis for this release has been conducted for ACUO by LFRG Pty Ltd, which is internationally recognised for its expertise and knowledge of the underpinning business models and practices of the global unmanned aircraft systems sector.

Classification of companies in this analysis has followed standard Australian Bureau of Statistics definitions, with the exception of grouping non-employing businesses (i.e. sole proprietorships and partnerships without employees) with the micro business category – that is businesses employing less than 5 people, including non-employing businesses. Small business is defined as businesses employing 5 or more people, but less than 20 people. Medium is defined as a business employing 20 or more people but less than 200 people, while large business is defined as entities employing more than 200 people.

Insitu Pacific and AAI Aerosonde are stand-alone Australian subsidiaries of, respectively, Boeing Company and Textron. For the purposes of this study these subsidiaries have been assessed in isolation to their parent company.

For further information:

Joe Urli





Brad Mason




NY Times



The House Ducks on Defense


MAY 17, 2014


The Pentagon has for too long been in denial about the changes it will have to make in a world of declining resources, skyrocketing personnel costs and changing global threats. This year, however, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel presented a more realistic, though still insufficient, cost-saving budget. Yet Congress seems firmly stuck in the past, loyal to campaign donors and frightened, as always, about local political fallout from closing excess military bases, modifying military compensation, reducing troop levels and cutting nonessential or older weapons.

The first big test of the Hagel approach came last week in the House Armed Services Committee. The Pentagon and the committee were both forced to work within a $496 billion maximum for basic defense spending in 2015 because of budget caps set by Congress. The committee also authorized $79 billion for war financing and $17.9 billion for defense-related nuclear programs, for a total price tag of $600.7 billion. In 2016, the military could face billions of dollars in further reductions if Congress does not lift the caps.

With these and other factors in mind, Mr. Hagel proposed to eliminate the fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, retire the U-2 spy plane in favor of the remotely piloted Global Hawk and cut maintenance for an aircraft carrier that would be slated for retirement in 2016. The committee, pressed by lobbyists and members in districts where the weapons are built, voted to keep all three.

In addition, the committee approved billions of dollars in funding for the F-35 jet fighter, despite serious capability and development issues. The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible. The committee did this by rejecting Mr. Hagel’s plans to cap pay raises at 1 percent instead of 1.8 percent, slow the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel and increase health insurance deductibles and some co-payments for retirees and some family members of active servicemen.

Caving to parochial interests, the panel also thwarted a request for a commission to decide on closing unneeded military bases; the Pentagon says 20 percent of its facilities are excess. The committee chairman, Representative Howard (Buck) McKeon of California, said he intended to block another major Hagel initiative — to shrink the Army by 2019 to a total force of between 440,000 and 450,000 troops, from a post-9/11 peak of 570,000. He was frank about hoping “some miracle happens and we get money … next year that we don’t have now.”

Hoping for a miracle is no way to budget. The United States cannot afford the larger force indefinitely, and does not need it. Even with a smaller Army, America’s defenses will remain the world’s most formidable. But the committee’s lack of vision will mean less money for the newer weapons required to confront future threats, and for training and maintenance — thus compromising the military’s readiness to fight.

This is not just a repudiation of the Pentagon’s agenda, but an irresponsible trade-off.

The full House has yet to act, while the Senate is working on its own version of the bill. Congress still has time to responsibly rebalance America’s military forces, but doing so will require reversing the inclination to always say yes to whatever the lobbyists and donors want.




Inside America’s Shadow War on Terror—and Why It Will Never End

James Kitfield

National Journal

May 18, 2014


The muezzin’s call to predawn prayers had not yet woken the seaside Somali town of Barawe when a lone figure stepped out of a two-story villa near the water’s edge. In the darkness of a walled compound, he smoked a cigarette, the glow of ash rhythmically illuminating his face. It was an effect that was heightened by the night-vision goggles focused on him. When the man stepped back inside, the commander of Navy SEAL Team Six, his own face hidden under black grease, directed his commandos to take up their positions and storm the villa. The date was Oct. 5, 2013, and inside was a Kenyan named Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, or Ikrimah—the leader of al-Shabaab suspected of masterminding the gruesome killing of non-Muslims at Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.

Two hours later and nearly 3,000 miles away, a Libyan named Nazih Abdul-Hamad al-Ruqai, or Anas al-Libi, was returning from dawn prayers as the sun began to rise over Tripoli. His sedan pulled up to a comfortable house in an upscale suburb of the capital and was suddenly boxed in from the side and the front by two white vans with darkened windows. Commandos from the Army’s elite Delta Force counterterrorism unit leaped out, one training his gun on al-Libi from the front as another broke the window, pulling the terrorism suspect out of the car and bundling him into one of the vans before both vehicles and a third that had been hidden sped off. The entire operation, caught on a surveillance camera and posted on YouTube, took 60 seconds.

President Obama wants deeply to convince Americans that the time of perpetual war is over. “America is at a crossroads,” he said last year in a speech that was meant to reassure a weary public that the post-Sept. 11 era of invasion, regime change, and nation-building was nearly done. “Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror,’ but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.”

Yet these twin raids, executed just hours apart in different time zones and inside countries with which the United States is not at war, demonstrate that the conflict is far from over. The unique U.S. counterterrorism model of intelligence-driven operations by multiagency task forces around the globe represents war—perhaps by another name, but deadly and perpetual, nonetheless.

Indeed, even after the last U.S. combat troops leave Afghanistan this year, the shadow war against jihadi terrorists that began on Sept. 11, 2001, will rage on, executed by comingled military, intelligence, and law-enforcement capabilities using legal authorities that blur distinctions between uncommon criminals and enemy combatants. Terrorism suspects caught in the hard stare of the U.S. counterterrorism network will still be arrested by U.S. law-enforcement agents overseas; snatched off the streets of lawless cities by U.S. special operations forces; eviscerated by CIA drone strikes in remote areas far from any declared war zone; and interrogated under the rules of warfare before being read their Miranda rights and prosecuted in federal courts. And that life-and-death struggle will continue to play out largely in secret.

National Journal was offered a glimpse behind that curtain of secrecy, visiting with U.S. counterterrorism warriors who have been on the front lines of this fight for many years. Their war did not end when Osama bin Laden’s body slipped off the deck of a U.S. warship in 2011, nor will the enemy surrender when the last airman turns off the lights at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Rather, theirs is a twilight struggle in which ancient hatreds are kindled anew and show no sign of resolution.



Like many top national security and counterterrorism officials today, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn honed his craft as a field-grade officer in the crucible of war. As the former intelligence chief for Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq and Afghanistan, Flynn helped his boss and mentor, former JSOC Commander and now-retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, develop the model of intelligence-driven, targeted strikes that has largely come to define U.S. counterterrorism operations: find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze (or “F3EA” in militaryspeak).

Today, the rhythms of that cycle ripple through the vast U.S. counterterrorism network: meticulous intelligence-gathering to establish “patterns of life” for terrorism targets; followed by raids and arrests (or, in extreme cases, lethal strikes); then interrogations, and exploitation of evidence such as computer hard drives or smartphones; and follow-up analysis leading to further raids or arrests. This is repeated in a loop that continually strengthens linkages in the U.S. counterterrorism network and expands intelligence databases, all while degrading the enemy.

It’s an intelligence system that has yielded an alarming picture of the new terrorist enemy. Yes, the al-Qaida that attacked the United States on 9/11 has been devastated by a decade of drone strikes and arrests in Pakistan. But Qaida affiliates and sympathetic Islamic extremist groups have proliferated to fill that void, especially in the revolution-riled Middle East and Africa.

That loose and still gravely dangerous network includes al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, which has launched three attacks on the United States from its base in Yemen and was targeted in a series of U.S. drone strikes in April that killed more than 40 of its suspected members. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, expanded from its base in Algeria last year to capture much of northern Mali before being pushed back by U.S.-supported French and African forces. Al-Shabaab, the Qaida affiliate in Somalia responsible for last year’s massacre in the Kenyan shopping mall that killed 67 civilians, sits near the top of the most-dangerous list, as does Boko Haram, the Islamic extremist group behind the grisly massacres of non-Muslims in Nigeria and the recent kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls, and Ansar al-Sharia, a radical group in Libya tied to the 2012 murder of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. As if that were not enough, a viper’s nest of Qaida- and Taliban-linked Islamic extremist groups remains active in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Most worrisome to Flynn and other U.S. counterterrorism experts is the situation in Syria, where a prolonged civil war is beginning to resemble the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s that originally spawned al-Qaida and the Taliban. The recently renamed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (formerly al-Qaida in Iraq), and the Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front have attracted more than 7,000 foreign fighters to their black banners in Syria, hundreds of them from Europe and the United States; the groups control territory and enjoy a degree of sanctuary stretching from northern Syria to Anbar province in western Iraq. U.S. counterterrorism officials are mindful that Arab fighters such as bin Laden, who joined the Afghan mujahedeen in fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, brought the campaign of terror home with them, before exporting it globally.

This decentralization and proliferation of the Qaida threat drove a 43 percent increase in worldwide terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2013, according to the State Department’s recently released global terrorism report. “I actually think al-Qaida is becoming more dangerous as it decentralizes, and through its franchises it has a bigger footprint today than on September 11, 2001,” says Flynn, now director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

As the intelligence chief for JSOC in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Flynn helped capture many local leaders of al-Qaida and the Taliban. Many of those hardened militant field commanders have since either been released, in the case of Afghanistan, or freed in a series of bold prison breaks in Iraq. In both cases, Flynn notes, they’ve returned to the battlefield. “They have gotten smarter from applying the lessons learned from fighting us, in many cases they are better armed and funded than in the past, and they are more sophisticated in knowing how to target and control weak governments and societies in the Muslim world through fear and intimidation.” He notes that leaders of al-Qaida’s far-flung network of affiliates and associated jihadists still communicate regularly with core Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, thought to be hiding in Pakistan’s tribal regions, as well as with each other.

If Zawahiri were ever able to unite them under a single banner and strategy, today’s al-Qaida would be tantalizingly close to bin Laden’s vision of a global Islamic insurgency intent on waging endless war, locally, regionally, and against the West. “If the growing number of al-Qaida affiliates become more coherent and cohesive as a group, then we will have a very big problem on our hands,” Flynn warns. “They are not there yet. But knowing what I do about this enemy and its evolution over the last 10 years, as I look forward to the next 10 or 20 years, I see this threat being with us for a very, very long time.”



Only months after Obama’s counterterrorism speech at National Defense University last year, the contours of the secret war against Islamic extremists came briefly into view with a series of events compressed into a few short weeks yet spread out over thousands of miles and across multiple international borders, none of them near Afghanistan.

The unlikely series of events began at the sprawling Westgate Mall in Nairobi, a retail oasis of upscale shops and restaurants favored by wealthy Kenyans and tourists, including plenty of Americans who were among the crowd strolling through the mall looking for souvenirs on Sept. 21, 2013.

Initially, few people took note of the silver Japanese compact car that pulled into a restricted zone next to the mall and parked illegally. Four young men piled out with their heads swathed in the signature black head scarves of the Somali Shabaab terrorist group, and once inside the building they calmly shouldered assault rifles. After shouting for any Muslims to raise their hands and exit the mall in Christian-majority Kenya, the assailants began methodically shooting into the terrified crowd.

By the end of the second day of the siege, scores of victims lay in a makeshift morgue outside the mall, part of a body count that would grow to nearly 70 civilians, many of them young children. Four Americans were among the nearly 200 people wounded in the attack. Already, an FBI Rapid Deployment “Fly Team” was on the scene. Special Agent in Charge Richard Frankel stood behind a barricade outside the wreckage of Westgate, listening to sporadic gunfire and waiting for the signal to send in his team of more than 80 investigators.

The tactical command post set up on the perimeter of Westgate mirrored the multi- agency Joint Terrorism Task Forces that are spread across the United States. The Kenyan task force was crawling with agents and operators from the major U.S. intelligence, law-enforcement, and military agencies, many of them familiar faces and veterans of JSOC’s task forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The job of Frankel’s FBI team was to conduct “sensitive site exploitation.” His investigators helped to interview eyewitnesses, process the car for fingerprints, review videotape from the surveillance cameras, and conduct a methodical search of what was left of the still-smoldering mall. FBI forensics experts categorized each piece of evidence, from shell casings to cell phones, noting exactly where it was found and whom it was most likely connected to. By matching surveillance videos with evidence on the ground, they determined where the shooters killed certain victims and, most important, where they bedded down inside the mall that first night. That was where FBI forensic experts found a trove of evidence.

Before long, Frankel’s team knew that the media reports of a dozen or more Shabaab fighters were way off mark. They were tracking four shooters and perhaps a fifth facilitator. “Our primary mission at that point was to help the Kenyans identify the terrorists who were responsible for the massacre, and hopefully gather enough evidence to track and ultimately prosecute them,” Frankel says.

The presence of such FBI Fly Teams at the scene of major terrorist attacks worldwide speaks to the bureau’s post-9/11 transformation from primarily a law-enforcement agency into a critical counterterrorism player, a process also heavily informed by the lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan. A turning point came in 2006, when the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was hit by a suicide bomber who killed two American soldiers and 14 Afghan civilians.

Brian McCauley was the FBI legal attaché in the embassy at the time. After witnessing the attack, he was alarmed to see Afghan police and NATO forces rush to the scene and wash down the gory bomb site with hoses, destroying vital forensic evidence in the process. At McCauley’s request, FBI headquarters in Washington deployed more than 100 special agents to Afghanistan, where they launched a conspiracy investigation aimed at the terrorist cells in Kabul that were targeting U.S. and allied troops with suicide bombers and improvised explosive devices. Working with JSOC, the FBI investigation eventually identified more than 150 IED “facilitators” whom special operations forces either captured or killed, foiling 43 bombing plots in the process.

Those hard-earned lessons inform the FBI’s close coordination with JSOC and the full panoply of U.S. counterterrorism forces. “We all learned in Afghanistan that no single agency can win this fight by themselves, but working together, we had a lot of success in disrupting these terrorist networks and cells,” says McCauley, now the deputy assistant director of the FBI’s International Operations Division.

Today, with only hours of notice and a green light from the chain of command, U.S. counterterrorism forces can rapidly deploy a major new node in a globe-spanning intelligence network that includes hundreds of thousands of investigators, intelligence analysts, military operators, and private contractors stationed in more than 160 countries. That model of multiagency cooperation and intelligence-driven, targeted operations has expanded well beyond Afghanistan, McCauley notes. “We’ve now learned to align our threat assessments, and the place where we all see the terrorist threat migrating and growing is Africa. So we need to respond to that before some weakly governed place in Africa becomes the next terrorist sanctuary, like Afghanistan was in the 1990s.”

Around the time of the embassy bombing in Kabul, the Drug Enforcement Administration also began working closely with JSOC to track Afghan drug kingpins whose proceeds were helping to fuel the Taliban insurgency. To participate jointly in JSOC raids, in 2006 DEA created Foreign Advisory Support Teams, units whose commandos undergo training that rivals the military special forces they often work alongside. In one case that DEA investigated, an Afghan drug cartel was trafficking methamphetamine to California and using the proceeds to fund the same suicide bomber cells in Kabul that the FBI was tracking. “So working with JSOC in Afghanistan took the blinders off for everyone, and taught us that we were facing a common threat,” says Derek Maltz, director of DEA’s Special Operations Division. “And the best way to attack that kind of complex organization is not only to go after its leaders, but to also attack its money trail, its logistics infrastructure, and its arms smuggling.”



The FBI Fly Team’s raw information on the militants likely behind the Westgate Mall attack, like all foreign and domestic intelligence on the terrorist threat, was relayed in real time to the round-the-clock operations center of the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, near Tysons Corner. The Liberty Crossing campus that houses both the NCTC and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence—two institutions that did not exist before 9/11—stands at the pinnacle of a far-flung empire of “fusion centers” that have proliferated over the past decade, and it acts as the central nervous system of the United States’ global counterterrorism network.

Each day inside Liberty One, a nondescript, modern edifice of gray stone that is one of the most-wired buildings in the world, hundreds of counterterrorism experts from more than 20 intelligence, national security, and law-enforcement agencies sift through thousands of reports of raw, terrorism-related intelligence from more than 100 databases. Each threat is cross-checked against the NCTC’s own Terrorism Identification Datamark Environment watch list of more than 740,000 suspected or potential terrorists, and analysts choose the top 30 or 40 most credible threats to post to the NCTC’s threat matrix. Through an analytic process that is as much art as science, analysts then prioritize a handful of the most urgent threats and flag them in the classified Situation Report that the NCTC publishes for the top levels of government twice a day. Those high-priority threats dominate discussion during the three video teleconferences the intelligence community holds each day, and are also included in the Presidential Daily Briefing delivered at the White House each morning.

Terrorism threats that make it into the Situation Report and the Presidential Daily Briefing are generally assigned to special NCTC “pursuit groups” consisting of analysts from multiple agencies whose sole task is to find the connections in the digital intelligence clutter—to discover that this email or that phone number links two individuals and sets off an alarm. Established after the NCTC failed to discern the terrorist plot of the so-called underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on Christmas Day 2009, the pursuit groups are the hunters at the top of the intelligence food chain, taking the art of finding patterns of life of potential targets to the next level.

That constant process of filtering and prioritizing terrorist threats from all-sources intelligence requires extraordinary resources and manpower, but NCTC Director Matthew Olsen believes it realizes the 9/11 commission’s vision of a single clearinghouse that allows analysts to connect the dots on most terrorist plots. “In the beginning of the NCTC, that was probably more vision than reality, but now in our 10th year I do think we’ve achieved the goal of being the one place where all the most sensitive information on terrorism comes together and is visible to all the major stakeholders,” Olsen said in an interview. “I can tell you our products on specific terrorist-threat streams are regularly disseminated across the government, including to the White House.”

As it turned out, two major streams of intelligence intersected at the top of the NCTC’s threat matrix last October: one from al-Shabaab’s Westgate Mall attack and the other involving longtime Qaida operative al-Libi, the man under indictment for his role in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies for more than a decade, al-Libi had recently been spotted in his hometown of Tripoli. More important, there was intelligence indicating that core Qaida leaders in Pakistan had sent al-Libi home to establish a new cell in the chaotic landscape of Libya post-Muammar el-Qaddafi, a weakly governed country ruled by competing militias where Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans had been killed by Islamic militants in Benghazi the year before.

In the kind of planning process that once would have taken months, the Obama administration quickly made the decision to launch two nearly simultaneous operations thousands of miles apart, involving the U.S. military’s two elite counterterrorism strike forces—Navy SEAL Team Six and the Army’s Delta Force. Paradoxically, on Oct. 5, the date chosen for the commando raids, the rest of the U.S. government was shut down by political paralysis in Washington.



The SEAL team in Somalia was given the order to storm the seaside villa. But, according to numerous media reports that included eyewitness accounts, the Shabaab fighter who had retreated inside came back out, firing an AK-47 before SEAL Team Six could reposition. The U.S. commandos fought their way into the villa, but encountered heavy fire and saw more women and children than expected, scrambling for cover. Having lost the critical element of surprise, the SEAL commander ordered his team to retreat to inflatable boats waiting on the beach.

The team could take solace that they suffered no casualties and had sent a message to Shabaab leaders about the long reach of U.S. counterterrorism forces. That message was underscored a few days later when, outside another Somali town, a car carrying two top Shabaab commanders, including the group’s chief bomb-maker, was destroyed by a Hellfire missile. The armed Predator drone that fired the missile was most likely operated by the JSOC team attached to the U.S. Africa Command’s Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa, headquartered in nearby Djibouti.

After being snatched from the street in front of his family’s home, al-Libi was below decks in a spare interrogation room aboard the USS San Antonio. An FBI agent was there too, reading al-Libi his Miranda rights. The suspect now had the right to remain silent, and anything the Libyan said would certainly be used against him in a court of law. If he could not afford an attorney, one would be provided. Anointed with those magic words, the man was suddenly transformed from an “enemy combatant” in America’s war with al-Qaida to just another terrorism suspect in the U.S. justice system.

The FBI special agent sitting with al-Libi was part of the government’s High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, another multiagency hybrid peopled by senior military, intelligence, and law-enforcement officials and created specifically for the war against al-Qaida. Because the warship was in international waters somewhere in the Atlantic, and they were operating under broad wartime authorities bestowed by Congress in the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the spies and the soldiers could question al-Libi indefinitely. They no longer used long-since banned “enhanced interrogation techniques,” and what they learned could not be used in a court of law. But they could keep at it with patience and maddening persistence and a psychological jujitsu that appealed to the terrorist’s sense of self-importance.

At first al-Libi cooperated with the interrogators, and even after being read his rights, he waived them for a time. But he was ill, and as he tired under the questioning, his mood soured until he invoked Miranda and stopped talking. At that point, the interrogation team halted the questioning and made arrangements to have al-Libi flown to New York City. Within days, the gray-bearded terrorism suspect was standing before a judge in a federal District Court in New York, pleading not guilty and requesting a court-appointed attorney.

All of these operations—from the twin raids and the Predator strike to the Westgate investigation and al-Libi’s floating interrogation—demonstrate the global nature of this ceaseless war. It’s why the Pentagon continues to add special operations forces (from 61,000 in 2012 to nearly 70,000 by 2015, representing a 300 percent increase compared with pre-9/11 levels) and to increase the size of the unmanned drone arsenal by more than 30 percent even as it reduces ground forces to field the smallest Army since before World War II. It’s why the U.S. intelligence budget has more than doubled since 9/11 to more than $75 billion annually, and why the number of FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces has grown from 26 to more than 100.

“It takes a network to defeat a network,” McChrystal has often said.

“In the beginning, it was difficult even putting all these different agencies under one tent with our Joint Task Forces, and suspicions ran so high that I remember one agency putting crime-scene tape around its work stations,” the former JSOC commander told National Journal in an interview last year. Over time, success built greater interagency trust. “And as we built the network, we were able to hit the enemy faster and with an operations tempo that was really crushing to them, because they keep losing experienced leaders. That’s our counterterrorism model and the heart of our strategy,” McChrystal said. “We became like an industrial machine—the of counterterrorism.”

Indeed, the 16 major agencies in the intelligence community have institutionalized a wartime ethos of information-sharing and intelligence-focused operations to create a frighteningly efficient counterterrorism model. DIA’s Flynn and his cohorts atop peer agencies, including Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, are determined that the synergy is not lost as the post-9/11 wars wind down and bureaucracies in Washington begin to assert themselves anew. For them, there is no end in sight to this war, as their ongoing activities attest.

The White House clearly wants the nation to rediscover its peacetime equanimity. Yet the president has publicly defended the continued use of lethal drone strikes even against American terrorism suspects, as well as snatch-and-capture operations by special operations forces on foreign soil and the NSA’s warrantless monitoring of the communications of non-U.S. citizens. And his call for an eventual repeal of wartime authorities feels more aspirational than real. Obama gets the Presidential Daily Briefing, he’s seen the threat matrix, and he sat in the loneliest chair in the White House as SEAL Team Six followed his orders to the faraway compound of Osama bin Laden. He’s seen the wisdom in Winston Churchill’s words that we sleep safely at night because rough men (and women) stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

So, despite an insistence that things will change after Afghanistan, the counterterrorism model born there will live on to fight a war that is not going away.



Drones have regulators, hobbyists on collision course

by Press • 20 May 2014

By Chris Brown, CBC News

As drones get better and cheaper, they’re becoming a more common sight in the sky, but they’re also presenting Canadian aviation officials with their biggest challenge in generations.

“The technology at this point is surpassing the legislation,” says Lee Mauro, who practices aviation law with the Vancouver firm Harper Grey. “It’s moving at a pace where it has outpaced the legislative ability to keep up to it.”

The growth of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) has been stratospheric in recent years. The term that once invoked images of hostile-looking unmanned military aircraft now captures anything from a remote controlled multi-propeller helicopter, to an insect-sized robot.

“I geek out every time,” says hobbyist Noel Rubin.

Rubin is a special effects designer with a background in physics. He spent $2,000 on a custom-built drone that he bought the components for online.

His flying machine has three arms, each supporting two propellers.

“It’s a very stable configuration and it just looks cool!,” Rubin says.

“There’s a mini-computer that controls each motor. It has a GPS and a compass. It’s almost like the computer is flying it, you just have to tell it where to go.”

Rubin’s UAV is designed to carry a stabilized GO-PRO camera. It shoots high-resolution video and uses WIFI to beam the images back to the operator on the ground as the craft is flying.

Under current Canadian law, anyone can fly a UAV or take video with it for fun, as long as the machine weighs less than 35 kilograms and is not being used for a commercial purposes. Hobby UAVs also have to stay under 400 feet and within line-of-sight of the operator.


But Mauro says the notion that today’s drones qualify as “model aircraft” under existing Canadian rules is outdated.

“A quad-copter isn’t a model of anything. It’s its own thing, and that’s not described in the legislation at all.”

Peering cameras flying overhead raise significant privacy concerns, but Mauro says safety is arguably a more pressing issue.

Recently, it was revealed Canada’s Transportation Safety Board is investigating a case where an Air Canada pilot landing at Vancouver International Airport spotted a drone a few dozen metres from his jet.

“Aircraft are tested for bird strikes on a regular basis and the industry is highly regulated and safe, Mauro says. “But they are not tested for a 70 pound (35 kilogram) carbon-fibre drone flying into the engine or the windscreen. And I think that is a safety issue we are seeing now.”

Transport Canada’s current model aircraft/UAV rules have been on the books since 2008. They require all operators flying for commercial purposes to get a permit and file a sort of flight plan, a process that usually takes between 10 and 20 days.

The department issued 945 so-called “flight operation certificates” last year, and observers expect the number to be higher in 2014.

North Guardian UAV Services, founded by Paul Baur and Jeff Howe in North Vancouver, is among the new companies filing frequent requests.

“I’ll tell you, the last six months have been totally phenomenal,” Baur says of the demand for his company’s drone services.

Earlier this spring, North Guardian UAV Services was hired by the Yukon government to inspect an old bridge on the Ross River, a job unsuitable for a helicopter.

“It [a regular helicopter] might blow the bridge away,” Howe says.

“This is different. It’s a lot less impact, zero emissions, and the quality of the video speaks for itself.”

The company also has a contract to work with Vancouver-area fire departments to use drones to deploy heat sensors. The drones would fly inside buildings that are on fire, carrying or deploying sensors so crews can monitor temperatures and make better decisions about when structures are at risk of collapse.

A Transport Canada official who asked not to be identified told CBC News companies that have demonstrated a track record of good drone-use behaviour are increasingly being granted multi-use permits. But the official conceded the speed of change in the emerging industry is dizzying.

“It’s hard to regulate something that’s evolving so quickly,” the official said.

Noel Rubin says as a hobby user he wouldn’t be opposed to more controls being put on people who are flying for fun, even if it means licensing users.

“There is a lot of science in this and a lot of expertise, this isn’t a toy. There should be some level of qualification,” he told CBC News as he manoeuvred his UAV at a park near Vancouver’s Science World.

Mauro, the aviation lawyer, agrees. “I think it only makes sense to have some kind of licensing when it comes to the pilots of these aircraft. We license drivers. These (UAVS) create a safety concern for the public and it makes sense to license them.”


The Real Aim of U.S. Indictment of Chinese

Analysis: U.S. Government’s Message to China, Others

By Eric Chabrow

May 20, 2014


There are a number of reasons why the U.S. government indicted five Chinese army officers for hacking American corporate computers to steal intellectual property. Bringing the assailants to justice isn’t one of them.

Despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s official pronouncement that he hopes the Chinese government will hand over the accused officers to face the 31 charges brought by U.S. prosecutors, few believe a trial will ever take place.


Tim Ryan of Kroll characterizes the indictments as a cyber-age “persona non grata,” the diplomatic expulsion of government officials caught – or believed to be – spying. “Spies are no longer residing in the country where they’re doing their work, so this is kind of the evolution of a diplomatic row,” says Ryan, managing director of the risk consultancy’s cyber-investigations practice. “It’s to register a diplomatic protest.”

The Obama administration is using the indictments to send messages to three different groups: the Chinese government, other nations and American businesses.

The message to the Chinese is that the U.S. is serious about getting them to stop pilfering intellectual property from corporate America. The message directed to other nations: U.S. spying in cyberspace is done for military, political and homeland defense purposes and not to steal commercial ideas to pass along to private companies – or, as in China’s case, to state-sponsored enterprises. And the message to corporate America is that businesses can cooperate with federal authorities to go after those who steal intellectual property by hacking into computers – whether the thieves are governments or criminals.


The Indictments

On May 19, Holder announced federal prosecutors indicted five officers of the People’s Liberation Army for hacking into the computers of aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, specialty metals producer Allegheny Technologies, the U.S. subsidiaries of Germany’s solar-power-products maker SolarWorld, steelmaker United States Steel, trade union United Steelworkers and nuclear plant builder Westinghouse Electric.

The U.S. government has been working on these criminal cases for years, but experts say the indictments were delayed because of last June’s revelations by Edward Snowden of National Security Agency e-spying activities.

“Snowden derailed the whole conversation,” says Jacob Olcott, principal of cybersecurity practices at risk consultants Good Harbor Consulting and a former top cybersecurity adviser to the Senate Commerce Committee. “When I was working on the Hill, from 2005 to 2011, people were always talking about doing something like this – that we needed a public confrontation with the Chinese. The political calculus at the time was that that public confrontation wasn’t really worth it.”


But now it is.

“This move indicates the U.S. government is shifting from playing defense in response to Snowden to going on the offensive on matters of fundamental concern to U.S. cybersecurity and economic power,” says Indiana University law professor David Fidler, senior fellow at the university’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. “One casualty of Snowden’s leaks was the initiatives the Obama administration mounted in the first half of 2013 against the pervasive nature of Chinese economic cyber-espionage. The U.S. government is returning to what had been, pre-Snowden, one of the biggest cybersecurity problems the U.S. and other countries faced.”

The U.S. government wants to distinguish its e-spying activities for government-political-defense purposes with the espionage conducted by the Chinese to steal corporate secrets to help advance Chinese businesses.

“This distinction, between economic and national security espionage, is not one that the Chinese hold,” says Adam Segal, senior fellow for Chinese studies at the think tank Council on Foreign Relations. “And in the wake of National Security Agency’s alleged hacking of Chinese technology company Huawei and Brazilian energy company Petrobras, the argument is not one that has much traction with the rest of the world. China will play up its status as victim and see this as a significant escalation.”


Challenge of Building Support

Besides, he says even some American allies – Israel and France, for example – don’t make the distinction between economic and national security espionage.

Getting other nations to back American principles poses a challenge. “The revelations from Snowden about alleged NSA activities make it very hard to build support for large-scale diplomatic efforts from the rest of the world,” Segal says.

Still, George Washington University’s Allen Friedman says the U.S. government sees the indictments as a way of getting the Chinese to deliberate about whether to continue their commercial e-spying practices.

“When you’re talking at this level, there is no single action that’s going to create change,” says Friedman, co-author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. “Eventually, they’ll be a phased shift. This is working in that direction. The challenge is, how do you create progress without creating backlash?”

But Friedman, research scientist at George Washington University’s Cybersecurity Policy Research Institute, says the U.S. government might have gone too far in embarrassing the Chinese by posting most-wanted-like posters of the five PLA officers.

“The United States has an international reputation of being cowboy country, and now we literally put up a ‘wanted’ poster of another sovereign country’s military officers,” he says. “It’s one thing to [send] a direct message to leadership in Beijing; it’s another thing to create an optic that could turn out to play very poorly internationally.”


Signaling Corporate America

Domestically, though, the indictments send a signal to American corporations that they have a partner in the federal government to battle intrusions into their computer systems, whether from nation states or criminals, to steal intellectual property.

“This is the Department of Justice really trying to double down on being a trusted partner in working with companies,” Friedman says. “The FBI has worked very hard for the last three or four years to be a first responder to a lot of these attacks. And now they’re trying to up their game.”

By upping their game, the FBI hopes to work more closely with business in going after those who infringe on intellectual property through cyber-attacks. Friedman, though, wonders if other businesses in other sectors would be as cooperative with law enforcement as U.S. Steel and Alcoa, companies that have worked with the U.S. government for decades to battle the dumping of steel and aluminum by foreign manufacturers.

But Kroll’s Ryan contends that companies in other sectors might have little choice but to cooperate with federal authorities, who usually notify businesses that their systems have been breached and their intellectually property pilfered.

“There are some companies that have suffered multiple intrusions, and they really haven’t been aggressive in mitigating these intrusions,” says Ryan, a former FBI special agent who once supervised the bureau’s largest cyber squad. “Now, they have to start thinking, ‘Hey, two to three years down road, could the guy who had done this to us be getting indicted, and will our company’s name end up in media?'”

That could serve as motivation to cooperate with law enforcement. At least that seems to be one reason why the U.S. government brought charges against the Chinese.



US, Closest Allies Sign Space Operations Agreement

By Colin Clark on May 20, 2014 at 5:46 PM


COLORADO SPRINGS: Australia, Britain, Canada and United States have signed a symbolically important Memorandum of Understanding committing them to “a partnership on combined space operations.”

As is often the case with such international agreements — especially on such a highly sensitive area as space operations — figuring out what it means and how things may change is extremely challenging.

One expert I spoke with here said the agreement would have no immediate practical effect but served to demonstrate the commitment of the partners and might lead to operational changes over time.

Brian Weeden, a space expert with the Secure World Foundation who alerted reporters to the UK announcement, once served at U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC). He noted that the statement refers to “Combined Space Operations” which “doesn’t necessarily involve everyone being physically co-located in the same place. It is more likely that each partner will have their own national space ops center and some level of coordination/communication between them.”

Weeden thinks that this agreement may have arisen from one of the Schriever war-games, this one held at Nellis Air Force Base in 2010.

Among the fundamental issues of space warfare that a joint allied approach would address is the sharing of highly sensitive space situational awareness data — knowledge about where satellites are and when. Moving satellites or coordinating their use could be made much faster and more effective if allies more rapidly shared such data. Highly accurate SSA data is considered among the most sensitive military information, in part because satellites are so vulnerable.

An article about the war-game by then Lt. Gen Larry James, commander of 14th Air Force and Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space, identified allied participation as a key to understanding the game.

“It illustrated the need for mechanisms to employ those capabilities in a way that is consistent with national objectives while being value-added to the coalition. The game explored three related organizations to achieve this: a Combined Space Operations Center (CSpOC), a Combined Joint Task Force-Space (CJTF-Space), and a Space Council. The CSpOC provided a means to direct the full range of coalition space capabilities at the operational level of war,” James wrote in “High Frontiers,” Air Force Space Command’s in-house magazine.

James also said the CSpOC “enabled improved communications across the coalition, facilitated more rapid deployment and employment of coalition capabilities, and allowed coalition partners to be fully integrated in strategy, planning, and execution.” It was “one of the clear successes of” the game and would be “an excellent model upon which to base a real-world combined operations center.”

However, that ain’t happening yet. But they’ve made the commitment, as Weeden noted: “This provides a political framework for moving forward and moving forward is going to be the more difficult part of doing this.”


Four DARPA Projects That Could Be Bigger Than The Internet

Patrick Tucker

May 20, 2014


Forty years ago, a group of researchers with military money set out to test the wacky idea of making computers talk to one another in a new way, using digital information packets that could be traded among multiple machines rather than telephonic, point-to-point circuit relays. The project, called ARPANET, went on to fundamentally change life on Earth under its more common name, the Internet.

Today, the agency that bankrolled the Internet is called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which boasts a rising budget of nearly $3 billion split across 250 programs. They all have national security implications but, like the Internet, much of what DARPA funds can be commercialized, spread and potentially change civilian life in big ways that its originators didn’t conceive.

What’s DARPA working on lately that that could be Internet big? Last week at the Atlantic Council, DARPA director Arati Prabhakar declined to name names. Like a good mutual fund manager, she said that her job was to “manage risk through diversity” in her portfolio. But the technologies that she highlighted in her recent testimony (PDF) to the Senate Appropriations Committee look like a list of insider favorites. Many have received much less public attention than DARPA’s flashier robot initiatives.

Here are four of DARPA’s potential next big things:

1. Atomic GPS

The Global Positioning System, or GPS, which DARPA had an important but limited role in developing, is a great tool but maintaining it as a satellite system is increasingly costly. A modern GPS satellite can run into the range of $223 million, which is one reason why the Air Force recently scaled back its procurement.


DARPA doesn’t have an explicit program to replace GPS, but the DARPA-funded chip-scale combinatorial atomic navigation, or C-SCAN, and Quantum Assisted Sensing, or QuASAR, initiatives explore a field of research with big relevance here: the use of atomic physics for much better sensing. If you can measure or understand how the Earth’s magnetic field acceleration and position is effecting individual atoms (reduced in temperature), you can navigate without a satellite. In fact, you can achieve geo-location awareness that could be 1,000 times more accurate than any system currently in existence, say researchers

The British military is investing millions of pounds in a similar technology. Researchers associated with the project forecast that they will have a prototype ready within five years.

The upshot for quantum navigation for any military is obvious. It arms them with better and more reliable situational awareness for soldiers and equipment and better flying for missiles. Perhaps, more importantly, a drone with a quantum compass wouldn’t require satellite navigation, which would make it much easier to fly and less hackable.

The big benefit for everybody else? Future devices that understand where they are in relation to one another and their physical world won’t need to rely on an expensive satellite infrastructure to work. That means having more capable and cheaper devices with geo-location capability, with the potential to improve everything from real-time, location-based searches to self-driving cars and those anticipated pizza delivery drones.

The most important civilian use for quantum GPS could be privacy. Your phone won’t have to get signals from space anymore to tell you where you are. It would know with atomic certainty. That could make your phone less hackable and, perhaps, allow you to keep more information out of the hands of your carrier and the NSA.


2.Terehertz Frequency Electronics and Meta-materials

The area of the electromagnetic spectrum between microwave, which we use for cell phones, and infrared, is the Terehertz range. Today, it’s a ghost town, but if scientists can figure out how to harness it, we could open up a vast frontier of devices of that don’t compete against others for spectrum access. That would be a strategic advantage in a time when more military devices use the same electromagnetic spectrum space.

Research into THz electronics has applications in the construction of so-called meta-materials, which would lend themselves to use in cloaking for jets and equipment and even, perhaps, invisibility.

On the civilian side, because THz radiation, unlike X-ray radiation, is non-invasive, metamaterial smart clothes made with small THz sensors would allow for far faster and more precise detection of chemical changes in the body, which could indicate changes in health states. There’s the future doctor in your pocket.


3.A Virus Shield for the Internet of Things

CISCO systems has forecast 50 billion interconnected devices will inhabit the world by the year 2020, or everything from appliances to streets, pipes and utilities through supervisory command and control systems. All of that physical and digital interconnection is now known as the Internet of Things.

The High Assurance Cyber Military Systems program, or HACMS, which DARPA announced in 2012, is trying to patch the security vulnerabilities that could pervade the Internet of Things. The agency wants the to make sure that military vehicles, medical equipment and, yes, even drones can’t be hacked into from the outside. In the future, some of the software tools that emerge from the HACMS program could be what keeps the civilian Internet of Things operating safely. This breakthrough won’t be as conspicuous as the Internet itself. But you will know its influence by what does not happen because of it – namely, a deadly industrial accident resulting from a catastrophic cyber-security breach. (See: Stuxnet.)

Without better security, many experts believe the Internet of things will never reach it’s full potential. In a recent survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project about the future of physical and digital interconnection, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, who was instrumental in the success of ARPANET, said that in order for the Internet of things to really revolutionize the way we live it must be secure.

“Barriers to the Internet of Things include failure to achieve sufficient standardization and security,” he said. HACMS could provide the seeds for future security protocols, allowing the Internet of things to get off the ground.


4. Rapid Threat Assessment

The Rapid Threat Assessment, or RTA, program wants to speed up by orders of magnitude how quickly researchers can figure out how diseases or agents work to kill humans. Instead of months or years, DARPA wants to enable researchers to “within 30 days of exposure to a human cell, map the complete molecular mechanism through which a threat agent alters cellular processes,” Prabhakar said in her testimony. “This would give researchers the framework with which to develop medical countermeasures and mitigate threats.”

How is that useful right now? In the short term, this is another research area notable primarily for what doesn’t happen after it hits, namely pandemics. It took years and a lot of money to figure out that H5N1 bird flu became much more contagious with the presence of an amino acid in a specific position.. That’s what enabled it to live in mammalian lungs and, thus, potentially be spread by humans via coughing and sneezing. Knowing this secret earlier would have prevented a great deal of death.

In the decades ahead, the biggest contribution of the program may be fundamental changes in future drug discovery. “If successful, RTA could shift the cost-benefit trade space of using chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces and could also apply to drug development to combat emerging diseases,” Prabhakar said.


Before any of these four reach Internet-level success, DARPA faces a big challenge despite it’s continued popularity, in that they remain a government agency at a time when change moves faster than the U.S. government understands.

“We move at a pace measured in decades in an environment that changes every year,” Prabhaka said, at the Atlantic Council. In terms of the emerging technology she’s most concerned about, it’s the unknown unknowns, the U.S. military’s “ability to handle this vast changing landscape.”

The agency that helped to bring about the Internet, Siri and GPS will always enjoy a certain cache, warranted or not. But the world moves faster than even DARPA can keep up. Perhaps the most important thing that DARPA can create in the years ahead is manageable expectations.


Air Force facing shortage of researchers due to retirements

By Barrie Barber

Dayton Daily News


Published: May 20, 2014


DAYTON, Ohio — The number of scientists and engineers retiring at the Air Force’s top science research agency has doubled in the last five years, and defense experts say the trend could lead to a shortage because a growing number of highly trained workers are eligible to leave.

The Air Force Research Laboratory, headquartered at Wright-Patterson in Ohio, has a workforce with about half the employees age 50 or older. This year, 20 percent of the agency’s scientists and engineers were eligible for retirement; by 2018, that figure will reach 33 percent.

The Air Force reportedly has lost nearly 30 percent of its top senior scientists the last two years, as well.

Former Lockheed Martin Corp. Chairman Norman R. Augustine said he expects a future shortage of engineers and scientists, which could impact national security. For decades, the United States has relied on superior technology to maintain an edge against adversaries.

“I do think it puts us at risk, and one of the greatest dangers is, it takes a long time (to find replacements),” said Augustine, a co-chairman of a National Academy of Sciences committee in 2012 that reviewed the status of the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, workforce in the Department of Defense and U.S. defense industry.

“You don’t just turn the spigot on and say we’ll have more engineers.”

A 2010 National Academy of Sciences study projected a shortage of scientists and engineers between 2015 and 2020, said George K. Muellner, a former Boeing Co. executive who was a cochairman of the review.

Budget instability caused last year by sequestration — from civilian furloughs to grounded jets — could hurt Air Force recruitment of civilian scientists and engineers, the retired Air Force lieutenant general said.

“To be frank, if they’re not able to start providing some stability to the folks they hire, they’re not going to compete well at all,” said Muellner, a past president of the American Association of Astronautics and Aeronautics.

The status of the Department of Defense science and engineering workforce has attracted the attention of Congress. As part of the fiscal year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers required the Pentagon to report on STEM workforce needs by last March.

The Defense Department missed the deadline but says a report will be released. In a Senate hearing last week, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, pressed the Pentagon to release the data so Congress can assess the issue.

“We want them to define the problem and then tell us how they recruit, how they retain and then what tools they need,” Portman said.

The military and defense and national security contractors face the challenge of competing for a limited number of graduate school students. Many students in U.S. graduate schools are foreign citizens not eligible for security clearances.

“Now you’ve cut the pool of graduate students in half that we’re eligible to go after, and of the half that’s left, we’re competing with industries that are more lucrative,” said Scott Coale, a retired colonel and former vice commander of the Air Force Research Lab, or AFRL.

To work on a classified project at a Department of Defense lab, a scientist or engineer must be a U.S. citizen with a security clearance, said Pamela Swann, AFRL deputy director of personnel.

In limited circumstances, AFRL may employ foreign-born scientists or engineers who have a green card, or permanent U.S. residency but who do not work on classified projects, she said.

The 2010 study that reviewed the Air Force’s STEM needs noted “reason for concern as to whether the supply of scientists and engineers who can obtain a security clearance will be adequate to meet the future needs of the Air Force.”

The report said that while science and engineering degrees awarded increased 8 percent between 2000 and 2005, the number of those degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents fell 5.5 percent. It also said women and minorities were a growing segment of potential recruits. It urged the Air Force to take a “proactive role” to address shortfalls in math and science skills among middle and high school students.

Augustine said U.S. high school students fare poorly in international science and math tests and often have not shown the kind of interest in STEM careers their counterparts in other countries have demonstrated.

“That’s the real problem,” he said.

Throughout the Air Force, 21 percent of scientists and 17 percent of engineers who are eligible retire every year. Forty-four percent of scientists and 40 percent of engineers are older than age 50, and the Air Force expects the retirement of 250 scientists and engineers every year until 2019.

Within AFRL, the agency reported that 311 scientists and engineers retired between fiscal years 2009 and 2013. In fiscal year 2009, 35 scientists and engineers retired at AFRL, and that number more than doubled to 76 in 2013, agency figures show. Retirements reached a peak of 96 in fiscal year 2012. The agency anticipates 400 more will opt for that path from this year through 2018.



Navy Braces For Backlash After PLA Cyber Indictments

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on May 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM


WASHINGTON: The Justice Department’s indictment of five People’s Liberation Army officers on charges of cyber-espionage may prove to be a double-edged sword for the US military.

The Department of Justice announced the indictments for cyber espionage on Monday. While the Justice Department accused the five of stealing things, the Chinese have a very different view. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last year: “Their view is, there are no rules of the road in cyber so they aren’t breaking any.”

On a spectrum from delight at Justice’s tough stand to anxiety about the potential backlash, “I would be closer to the second[:] ‘Oh boy, I hope we can continue the momentum that we have with the PLA,” Navy Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert said when I asked him about the issue at this morning’s Defense Writers’ Group breakfast. “We’ve got to continue.” At stake are high-profile engagements like China’s first-ever participation in the annual Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) international exercises in Hawaii and Greenert’s own visit to China this summer to meet with PLA Navy chief Adm. Wu Shengli. “We haven’t had any signs of displeasure from our Chinese navy interlocutors at this point,” Greenert said.

Just wait, said one of America’s most iconoclastic strategists, Edward Luttwak. “It is the ancient American torture of a thousand cuts,” he told me. Indicting PLA officers may seem pure symbolism — no one expects them to stand trial — but it’s just the publicly visible tip of an Asia-Pacific iceberg, Luttwak said: “It was a measure at hand; there will be more.”


“We are sliding into a confrontation with China,” Luttwak warned. “Every time the Chinese challenge a neighbor — Japan, Vietnam, Vietnamese, Philippines, no matter — they are putting another brick in the wall of the emerging pan-Asian coalition…. In the process, US-China hostility increases.” That said, Luttwak noted, we have a long way to go before we reach Cold War levels of tension.

“This will be seen as enormously insulting,” said Dean Cheng of the conservative Heritage Institution. “Taken in conjunction with the comments by General Fang during his recent visit (as noted in Colin’s article), we are looking at a likely chilling of US-China relations, not just at the mil-mil level, but more broadly. General Fang’s comments clearly reflect a view that the US is fomenting problems for China, including encouraging its neighbors to challenge Chinese claims in places like the South China Sea. Now, we’re accusing their military of criminal acts.” That includes an open-ended charge of “conspiracy” that could potentially entangle more senior Chinese officers and complicate high-level visits to the US.

That said, Cheng added, “note that the Chinese did not take the most obvious retaliatory path, which was to cancel high-level meetings…or participation in RimPac.” That’s not necessarily a good thing, he added: “This would suggest that the information the PLA will obtain from RimPac likely outweighs their diplomatic pique — and should raise questions about just what we’re choosing to show the Chinese.”

Greenert, by contrast, sees RimPac as a pure win-win. Within the boundaries of security regulations and statutes, he said, “we’ve gone as complex and comprehensive with their attendance at RimPac as feasible and they’re pleased with that.” Greenert expects Chinese sailors to go aboard the USS Mercy and Americans to aboard the Chinese Peace Ark — both hospital ships, not combat vessels with highly classified equipment — and hopes to see the two ships embark detachments from each others’ navy on future operations. Beyond RimPac, he wants to routinize some types of exercises so the two fleets can conduct them without requiring high-level approval every time.

Greenert even wants student exchanges between the Chinese and the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. The goal: to build mutual understanding in the next generation of both navies’ leaders.

Greenert is certainly concerned about cyber espionage: In particular, he said, “I worry about our cleared defense contractors losing information and data” before that data gets classified and moves into better protected networks. “We’ve got to press” on cybersecurity, he said.

But Greenert sees the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) as a moderating influence on other security forces, notably the newly created Chinese Coast Guard, which has played the leading role in recent provocations in both the Sea of Japan and the South China Sea. This spring, after the two forces agreed to a new protocol for interactions at sea, “one of our ships was being kind of pressured — I hate to use the term harassed — [by Chinese coast guard vessels],” Greenert recounted. “One of the Chinese [navy] warships came in, spoke English, said what’s going on, had a discussion with our guy, and he stepped in and defused the situation. He said to the coast guard, ‘you need to move along, you’re too close'” to the American ship, the USS Spruance.

Even the notorious near-collision between the USS Cowpens and a Chinese vessel escorting their new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, had a happy ending, Greenert said. While the protocol for at-sea incidents hadn’t yet been finalized at the time, Greenert said, “right after Cowpens came to a screeching halt, the aircraft carrier CO [commanding officer], in English… gets on the international net with the Cowpens CO [and] defuses the situation.”

Greenert made clear that the military, by itself, can only manage day-to-day interactions, not the grand strategic challenges of the US-China leadership. “The big problem, I leave to our leadership,” he said. “We need to keep negotiating.” Meanwhile, navy to navy, “we need to keep things cool.”



DARPA Unveils Hack-Proof Drone

by Kris Osborn on May 21, 2014


What’s going on here?The Pentagon’s research arm unveiled a new drone built with secure software that prevents the control and navigation of the aircraft from being hacked.

The program, called High Assurance Cyber Military Systems, or HACMS, uses software designed to thwart cyber attacks. It has been underway with the Defense Advance Research Project Agency for several years after originating at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington, said Kathleen Fischer, HACMS program manager for DARPA.

“The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,” Fisher said.

The mini drone is engineered with mathematically assured software making it invulnerable to cyber attack. Citing the success of mock-enemy or “red-team” exercises wherein cyber experts tried to hack into the quadcopter and failed, Fisher indicated that DARPA experts have referred to the prototype quadcopter as the most secure UAS in the world.

“We started out with the observation that many vehicles are easy for malicious hackers to tamper with the software and take control remotely. We’ve replaced all the software with our high assurance software that was developed using the tools and techniques that were invented in the program,” Fisher said.

The drone prototype was among more than 100 projects and 29 advanced research programs on display in the Pentagon’s courtyard Wednesday in what was billed as DARPA Demo Day.

The HACMS program develops system architecture models, software components and operating system software, DARPA officials said.

Vulnerabilities or security issues can arise when drones or other military aircraft are “networked” to one another such that they can share information in real time. Security risks can emerge through network protocols, software bugs or unintended interactions between otherwise correct components, DARPA officials explained.

“Many things have computers inside and those computers are networked to talk to other things. Whenever you have that situation, you have the possibility for remote vulnerabilities where somebody can use the network connection to take over and get the device to do what the attacker wants instead of what the owner wants,” Fisher explained.

The software tools used for the HACMS program can be adjusted to larger platforms. In fact, DARPA plans to transition the secure software to Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird helicopter, DARPA officials said.

“The software is foundational so it could be used for a large number of systems,” Fisher added.



It’s official scrap 2015 for UAS integration in the USA

by Gary Mortimer • 21 May 2014


Hinted at a couple of times in the last week, Congress has given the FAA more time, interestingly the Pirker case is sighted as one of the reasons! Speaking two weeks ago at sUSB Expo Jim Williams of the UASIO mentioned the introduction of limited low risk operations was being considered but did not commit to detail.

This delay will no doubt delight DoD vendors who are beginning to place their products in the frame but are not quite there yet.

The NPRM is still being spoken of for November but again, perhaps there is less of a rush now.

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Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). -The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 directed the FAA to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System by 2015. However, it is uncertain when the FAA can integrate UAS into the Nation’s airspace and what will be required to achieve the goal. The lack of an overall framework for the new systems may be inhibiting progress on UAS integration. The Committee is concerned that the FAA may not be well positioned to manage effectively the introduction of UAS in the United States, particularly in light of a recent ruling by a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administrative judge regarding the use of a small UAS for commercial purposes. Given these challenges, the Committee has provided an additional $3,000,000 in the Aviation Safety Activity to expedite the integration of UAS into commercial airspace.


UAS budgeting.—The Committee understands that UAS have very different operating characteristics, communications and flight planning system requirements than traditional air traffic operations. However, the resource requirements for integrating UAS into airspace and the corresponding impacts on the FAA’s capital and operating budgets remains unclear. The Committee directs the FAA to develop an integrated budget for UAS in the fiscal year 2016 budget request that clearly identifies research and development needs and the requirements for air traffic control systems and operations.



eBay Breach: 145 Million Users Notified

Users Urged to Change Passwords After Database Compromise

By Jeffrey Roman, May 21, 2014.


eBay is urging its 145 million customers to change their passwords following a cyber-attack that compromised encrypted passwords and other personal information.

The attack, which occurred between late February and early March, originated after a small number of employee log-in credentials were compromised, which enabled cyber-attackers to gain access to eBay’s corporate network, eBay says in an FAQ. “We are working with law enforcement and leading security experts to aggressively investigate the matter,” the company says.

The company says it’s notifying all of its active users about the breach, and the need to change their passwords, by e-mail, site communications and other marketing channels.

Compromised information includes encrypted passwords, customer names, e-mail addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth, eBay says. The database that was exposed in the breach did not contain financial information, according to the company.

eBay detected the compromised employee log-in credentials approximately two weeks ago. So far, the company says there’s no evidence of unauthorized activity for eBay users. The company also says it has no evidence of unauthorized access or compromises to personal or financial information for PayPal users. PayPal data is stored separately on a secure network, and all PayPal financial information is encrypted, eBay says.

“eBay regrets any inconvenience or concern that this password reset may cause our customers,” the company says. “We know our customers trust us with their information, and we take seriously our commitment to maintaining a safe, secure and trusted global marketplace.”


Analyzing the Breach

Tyler Shields, a security analyst at Forrester Research, says the amount of time attackers had in the eBay network is concerning, because the company discovered the breach two weeks ago, yet the attackers apparently first accessed the system in late February or early March.

“That’s a long time for an attacker to be in your network,” he says. “I’d be very concerned about the continued [presence] of the attacker and what else they may have taken.”

Even though financial information wasn’t exposed, Shields says there was enough sensitive information potentially accessed to enable criminals to commit fraud. “Lots of attack scenarios can be devised when you know the e-mail address, home phone number and home address for 145 million people,” he says.

Al Pascual, senior fraud and security analyst at Javelin Strategy and Research, says the compromise likely originated from a spear phishing campaign that resulted in the compromised employee credentials. “I guess that’s a major lesson here – the system is only as secure as its weakest link, and that is very often its people,” he says.

Andreas Baumhof, CTO at security firm ThreatMetrix, says that although the exposed passwords were encrypted, criminals are improving their ability to crack hashed passwords. He says account takeover will be the biggest issue going forward. “We’ll see phishing sites pop up asking you to change your eBay password,” he predicts.


The attack also highlights that all companies, no matter how strong their security is, are susceptible to attack. “Even the best-run security companies have been hacked,” Baumhof says. “It’s not the question of whether you get hacked, but when.”

Shields says that, with enough time, a dedicated attacker can compromise the best security. “There is an asymmetry of warfare going on where an attacker need only find one hole and defenders have to secure every point of entry,” he says.

Regarding the company advising its customers to change their passwords, Pascual says that the messaging doesn’t do enough to quench concerns. “I’d rather hear about the type of encryption used on the password list so we can determine the likelihood that it will be decrypted and misused by criminals,” he says. “The more that a consumer uses a password across multiple accounts, the higher their rate of fraud – and we all reuse passwords far more often than we should. The breach of user credentials anywhere can result in fraud everywhere.”


Buy a Surface Pro 3, get it at summer’s end

Microsoft may have unveiled new tablets to preempt Apple’s expected June announcements

By Gregg Keizer

May 22, 2014 06:29 AM ET


Computerworld – Microsoft Wednesday kicked off pre-sales of its new Surface Pro 3 tablet, but some of those orders won’t be fulfilled until the end of summer.

The interval between introduction and availability for the Surface Pro 3 was both in line with and longer than Microsoft’s practice for the laptop replacement’s previous editions.

Of the five models Microsoft introduced Tuesday, two — the Intel Core i5-powered configurations with 128GB or 256GB of storage space — will ship next month in the U.S. and Canada. Those models, which list for $999 and $1,299, will ship June 20 and go on sale in the company’s own retail stores as well as others. Microsoft will deliver the $130 Surface Pro Type Cover, a new keyboard sized for the larger Surface Pro 3, on the same day.

The other three models, including the entry-level $799 Core i3 with 64GB of storage space, and the two with the Intel Core i7, will not ship or hit retail in the U.S. and Canada until Aug. 31, more than three months from now. That’s also when Microsoft will begin shipping and start selling all of the Surface Pro 3 models and accessories in 26 other markets, including the U.K., China, France, Germany and Japan.

Those schedules are similar to and different from past editions.

The original Surface Pro, for example, was finalized with pricing and specifications in late November 2012, and shipped in early February 2013, a stretch of about 10 weeks. But the second-generation Surface Pro 2, unveiled in September 2013, went on sale six weeks later.

For those who thought Microsoft jumped the gun with its rollout, Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticule Research, had an explanation.

“Announcing the Surface Pro 3 prior to WWDC [Worldwide Developers Conference] but also in advance of its shipping would be one way to get in front of Apple’s early June announcements,” Rubin wrote in an email reply to questions. “In fact, [Panos] Panay even referenced rumors that Apple was going to add support for simultaneous app viewing on the iPad.”

As Rubin said, Apple’s developer conference, WWDC, is just around the corner: The confab kicks off June 2, less than two weeks from today, with a keynote where company executives, including CEO Tim Cook, will almost certainly trumpet the new iOS 8 and the latest version of OS X.

Panay, the head of Microsoft’s Surface team, did make a subtle reference to rumors that iOS 8 may break with tradition and include a split-screen mode for the iPad. iOS has never let two apps display simultaneously; instead, each app appears in a full-screen mode, and interaction between apps is clumsy and limited.

“There’s rumors of other side-by-side computing,” Panay said yesterday near the end of the Surface Pro 3 introduction. “I’m showing you side-by-side computing. This is side-by-side computing. This is Windows,” Panay boasted as he demonstrated Windows 8.1’s split-screen mode on the tablet. “There’s no tricks, no gimmicks, no nothing. It just works.”

Microsoft has long highlighted Windows’ ability to show two “Modern,” nee “Metro” apps in the tile-based, touch-first user interface (UI) in its anti-iPad marketing.


The Redmond, Wash. developer may also have wanted to strut the Surface Pro 3 before Apple refreshed its MacBook Air, the lightweight notebook Panay used yesterday as a foil for the new Surface. Several times Panay pulled out a MacBook Air or referenced it — “Best in class, there’s no debate,” he said at one point — to hammer home Microsoft’s pitch that its new device is not as much a tablet as a notebook replacement.


Rasmussen Reports


What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, May 24, 2014

American voters have more information than ever, it seems, but the real question is, do they know it?

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Likely U.S. Voters complain that they don’t have enough say when it comes to choosing their leaders. But in the same survey, while 90% say voters in countries with democratically elected governments have a responsibility to be informed about major policy issues, just nine percent (9%) feel most of their fellow countrymen are informed voters.

And what have the voters wrought?

For one thing, they’ve chosen a president who continues to earn a double-digit negative job approval rating as he has for most of his time in office. Seventy-three percent (73%) now consider the president at least somewhat liberal in political terms, the highest finding in nearly four years. But only 11% of voters consider themselves liberal when it comes to both fiscal and social issues.

Then there’s an elected Congress that just nine percent (9%) of voters give good or excellent marks to, and that’s an
improvement from recent months.

Only 19% now trust the federal government to do the right thing most or nearly all the time, so Americans aren’t likely to be surprised by the controversy that has erupted over the performance of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Just 21% think the government does a good or excellent job delivering veterans benefits, although interestingly recipients of those benefits give the feds slightly better marks.

The federal government and the courts continue to advance the cause of gay marriage nationwide, but voters remain closely divided when asked if they approve. 

Voters will have a chance this November to change the makeup of the House and Senate, so it will be interesting to see what they make of the information that’s out there. With party primaries beginning to narrow some of the races down, we looked at two more Senate contests this past week.

West Virginia’s Senate race is closer following the primaries there, but Republican Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito still holds a nine-point lead over Democrat Natalie Tennant.

In Georgia, Republicans still won’t have a specific nominee for a couple more months, but the final two contenders are running slightly behind Democrat Michelle Nunn. In a crowded GOP primary field, no candidate crossed the 50% margin, so Peach State Republicans must choose between Congressman Jack Kingston and businessman David Perdue in a July 22 runoff election.

The next presidential race is still a couple years away, but Republican strategist Karl Rove prompted some chatter when he said recently that Hillary Clinton’s health will be an issue in 2016. Speaking of information, 38% of voters believe all declared presidential candidates should release at least their most recent medical records to the public. By comparison, 73% think all presidential candidates should release at least their most recent tax returns.

The economy remains the number one issue as far as voters are concerned, however. The U.S. Justice Department this week announced the indictment of five Chinese military computer hackers for stealing commercial secrets. A plurality (45%) of voters believes a cyberattack by another country poses a greater economic threat to the United States than a traditional military attack.

It’s no secret that younger adults tend to be more avid consumers of the latest technology, but just how much of a difference is there between today’s millenials and those who came before them? We decided to find out what America thinks

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of Americans say now is a good time for someone in their area to sell a house. That’s up from 34% last month and just one point shy of 39% in September, the highest level of confidence in regular surveying since April 2009.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of homeowners expect their home’s value to go up over the next year. That ties the highest level of confidence since early 2009, first reached in October.

Among homeowners who are Very Confident they know the value of their home, 73% say it’s worth more than when they bought it.

Consumer and investor confidence remain higher than they were at the beginning of the year.

In other surveys this week:

— Twenty-nine percent (29%) of voters think the United States is headed in the right direction.

— Democrats lead Republicans again on the latest Generic Congressional Ballot.

— Following his narrow primary win, Republican nominee Pete Ricketts leads his Democratic opponent Chuck Hassebrook 47% to 40% in Nebraska’s gubernatorial race.

— Just half of Americans say they are likely to visit the new National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York City, but 62% don’t think a historic film shown there should be changed so as not to offend Muslims.

— Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans consider Memorial Day, celebrated this coming Monday, the unofficial start of summer.


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